Fabian Wilnis

Fabian Wilnis (born 23 August 1970) is a Dutch-Surinamese former professional footballer who played as a defender. He played for NAC Breda, De Graafschap, Ipswich Town, Grays Athletic and Leiston.

Fabian Wilnis
Fabian Wilnis cropped.jpg
Wilnis playing for Ipswich Town in 2007
Personal information
Full name Fabian Wilnis[1]
Date of birth (1970-08-23) 23 August 1970 (age 51)[1]
Place of birth Paramaribo, Suriname
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[1]
Position(s) Full back
Youth career
1985–1991 Sparta Rotterdam
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1995 NAC Breda 134 (3)
1995–1999 De Graafschap 107 (1)
1999–2008 Ipswich Town 282 (6)
2008–2009 Grays Athletic 33 (0)
2014 Leiston
Total 556 (10)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Wilnis started his career with the Sparta Rotterdam academy. After leaving the youth system at Sparta Rotterdam he joined NAC Breda in 1991. He spent four years at NAC Breda, making over one hundred appearances before joining De Graafschap in 1995. Wilnis also spent four years at De Graafschap and made over one hundred appearances for the club. In 1999, Wilnis joined English side Ipswich Town. He spent ten years at Ipswich, making over three hundred appearances for the club while also helping Ipswich win promotion to the Premier League in 2000. After leaving Ipswich in 2008, Wilnis joined Grays Athletic where he spent a single season. He retired from playing profesional football at the end of the 2008–09 season.

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Wilnis began his career in the Sparta Rotterdam academy, joining the club's youth set up in 1985.[2] After spending six years at Sparta Rotterdam he joined NAC Breda where he spend four years, making over 100 appearances for the club. In 1995 he signed for De Graafschap. He made over 100 appearances for the Dutch club between 1995 and 1999.[3]

Ipswich TownEdit

Wilnis signed for Ipswich Town in January 1999. The Dutchman joined the Blues from De Graafschap for £200,000, replacing Mauricio Taricco. Wilnis quickly established himself in the side and was a key part of George Burley's side which won promotion to the Premiership. He made his debut for Ipswich in a 0–1 loss to Grimsby Town on 9 January 1999. Wilnis featured frequently during the remainder of the 1998–99 season as Ipswich finished 3rd in the First Division, losing out to Bolton Wanderers on aggregate over two legs in the First Division play-offs. He scored his first goal for the club on 3 April 1999, netting the final goal in a 6–0 win over Swindon Town.[4]

He featured regularly during the 1999–2000 season as Ipswich challenged for promotion to the Premier League. He made his first appearance of the season on the opening day, featuring as a second-half substitute in a 3–1 home win over Nottingham Forest at Portman Road. He made 40 appearances in all competitions over the course of the season as Ipswich once again finished 3rd in the First Division, qualifying for the play-offs as a result. Ipswich faced Bolton Wanderers in the play-offs for the second consecutive season. Wilnis started the first leg of the play-off semi-finals away at the University of Bolton Stadium, with the match ending in a 2–2 draw after Ipswich came back from 0–2 down following a brace from Marcus Stewart. He did not feature in the semi-final second leg which Ipswich won 5–3, making the aggregate score 7–5 to earn Ipswich a place in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Wilnis featured as a late substitute during the final, replacing Jermaine Wright in the 89 minute. Ipswich won the final 4–2, earning promotion to the Premier League for the 2000–01 season.[5]

Wilnis scored a rare and memorable goal against Manchester United in the first home game after Ipswich's return to the top flight on 22 August 2000. He continued to be a key part of the Ipswich first-team throughout the season. On 20 November, he scored the winning goal as Ipswich won 1–0 away against Coventry City at Highfield Road. Ipswich defied expectations to finish 5th in the Premier League, earning a place in the UEFA Cup for the following season. Wilnis made 37 appearances during the season, scoring twice.[6]

After Chris Makin's recruitment in 2001, Wilnis played fewer games and looked to be on his way out of the club after falling out with manager George Burley after being substituted in the first half of the UEFA Cup tie at Helsingborg late in 2001. He saw his game time reduced during the 2001–02 season, making 19 appearances in all competitions as Ipswich suffered relegation from the Premier League following an 18th-placed finish.[7]

Former Norwich striker Joe Royle's arrival as manager a year later saw Wilnis get his chance once more. He was a regular during the season, mainly at right-back whilst also often playing at left-back and latterly at centre-half during the former England striker's tenure as manager. Wilnis scored the opening goal in a 2–0 win away at Norwich City on 2 March 2003. He played a key part in Ipswich's league campaign, whilst also featuring in the UEFA Cup. In total, made 43 appearances during the season, scoring 2 goals.[8]

Wilnis became one of the longest-serving players at the club. He continued to keep his place as the starting right-back in the team, making 46 appearances in all competitions and helping Ipswich reach the play-offs in the 2003–04 season by finishing 5th in the First Division.[9]

Wilnis made a publicised "angry rant" against Norwich City, following Norwich's 3–1 win in a 2004 East Anglia derby match.[10]

[Wilnis] said Norwich weren't good enough to top the table, wouldn't survive in the Premier League and unless they signed 15 new players they'd be relegated by Christmas – much to the fury of City followers.[10]

In Wilnis' 2009 autobiography, he wrote:

"I got letters saying I was a dead man and threatening to break my arms and legs if I ever set foot in Norwich. At the time, it was really frightening ... I upset and offended some of their fans and for that I really am sorry. I think the dust has settled now, though. I've only been back there for football ... and won't risk doing anything else, especially if I'm with my family."[10]

He continued to serve as Ipswich's starting right-back during the 2004–05 season. He helped the team reach the Championship play-offs once again as Ipswich finished 3rd in the league, narrowly missing out on an automatic promotion place. Ipswich lost out to West Ham United in the play-off semi-finals for the second consecutive season.[11]

Wilnis with the Ipswich Town Player of the Year trophy, which he won for the 2005–06 season

The 2005–06 season was one of Wilnis' most impressive seasons at the club. He scored his first goal of the season on 2 January, in a 2–2 draw away at Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. His performances during the season saw him win the supporters' Player of the Year award for the 2005–06.[12]

Under Jim Magilton, Wilnis frequently found himself on the sidelines, but signed a new one-year contract in May 2007. The revival of form by Spanish defender Sito Castro and the strong partnership of Alex Bruce and Jason de Vos, made it hard for Wilnis to break back into the side. After Ipswich's final game of the 2007–08 season, Wilnis announced that he was to retire as a player, but was interested in coaching opportunities at Ipswich.[13] Unfortunately he was told there were no vacancies at Portman Road at the time, which brought to an end a long association with the club. He was released by the club at the end of the 2007–08 season.[14]

In August 2008, Wilnis signed for Grays Athletic on a one-year contract.[15] He retired at the end of the 2008–09 season. Wilnis played his last game for Ipswich Town in his Testimonial game with Colchester United in 2009. A stunning own goal from Colchester defender Magnus Okuonghae and a strike from Jordan Rhodes gave the Blues a 2–0 victory. Fabian Wilnis made his final appearance in a Town shirt with 12 minutes left, his every touch applauded by the Blues supporters. After the final whistle Fabian Wilnis thanked and said goodbye to Town fans for the final time at the end of his distinguished 11 years in English football, 10 of them with the Blues.[16] In December 2011 he joined the Colchester United Centre of Excellence coaching staff [17]

Career statisticsEdit

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup[a] League Cup[b] Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
De Graafschap 1995–96 Eredivisie 32 0 1 0 33 0
1996–97 Eredivisie 23 0 0 0 23 0
1997–98 Eredivisie 33 1 0 0 33 1
1998–99[4] Eredivisie 19 0 3 0 22 0
Total 107 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 111 1
Ipswich Town 1998–99[4] First Division 18 1 1 0 0 0 2[c] 0 21 1
1999–00[5] First Division 35 0 1 0 2 0 2[c] 0 40 0
2000–01[6] Premier League 29 2 2 0 6 0 37 2
2001–02[7] Premier League 14 0 1 0 2 0 2[d] 0 19 0
2002–03[8] First Division 35 2 2 0 2 0 4[d] 0 43 2
2003–04[9] First Division 41 0 2 0 1 0 2[c] 0 46 0
2004–05[11] Championship 41 0 1 0 0 0 2[e] 0 44 0
2005–06[18] Championship 35 1 1 0 1 0 37 1
2006–07[19] Championship 21 0 2 0 1 0 24 0
2007–08[20] Championship 13 0 1 0 0 0 14 0
Total 282 6 14 0 15 0 12 0 323 6
Grays Athletic 2008–09[21] Conference Premier 33 0 2 0 0 0 35 0
Career total 422 7 20 0 15 0 12 0 469 7
  1. ^ Includes appearances in FA Cup and KNVB Cup
  2. ^ Includes appearances in EFL Cup
  3. ^ a b c Appearances in First Division play-offs
  4. ^ a b Appearances in UEFA Cup
  5. ^ Appearances in Championship play-offs


Ipswich Town



  1. ^ a b c Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2008). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2008–09. Mainstream Publishing. p. 441. ISBN 9781845963248.
  2. ^ "Jeugdtrainers R.V.&A.V. Sparta seizoen 2019-2020". RV & AV Sparta Rotterdam. 26 April 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Fabian Wilnis at Soccerbase". Soccerbase. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 1998/1999". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 1999/2000". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2000/2001". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2001/2002". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2002/2003". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2003/2004". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Lakey, Chris (2 June 2009). "Wilnis scared of Norwich". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 3 June 2009.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2004/2005". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Fab Player of the Year". TWTD. 21 April 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Klug: Fab Playing His Part". TWTD.co.uk. 16 April 2008. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
  14. ^ "Dutch Giants in Town?". Ipswich Town F.C. Official Site. 23 June 2008. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  15. ^ "Grays Athletic add Ipswich veteran Fabian Wilnis to squad". Thurrock Gazette. 7 August 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  16. ^ "Town Beat Colchester in Fab's Testimonial - Ipswich Town News".
  17. ^ http://www.cu-fc.com/page/News/0,,10424~2542805,00.html Archived 28 July 2012 at archive.today
  18. ^ "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Games played by Fabian Wilnis in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Ipswich triumph at last". BBC News. 29 May 2000. Retrieved 25 September 2019.

External linksEdit